Thursday, June 25, 2009

Influence plus Intention

(why we must develop Christian leadership and character in young musicians)

At the end of May, the year-long stateside ministry program I direct came to a close, and we transitioned to our summer international ministry program.  39 young people will be trained and sent out to share the love of Christ through music and stories of how God has worked in their lives.  They will support worldwide efforts to make disciples of all nations by serving our ministry partners - modeling the example of Jesus, who did not come to be served, but to serve.  And they will do so under the leadership of their peers: 14 other young musicians who have recently completed a year in our fulltime program.

This peer leadership model works because of the principle of influence.  Our fulltimers have spent the past nine months as touring bands, strengthening Christians in places where they gather and bringing the light of Jesus to places where He may not be known.  They have done what our summer team members are just now arriving to do.  Accordingly, they have a great deal of influence in the lives of the young musicians who they are now training and sending out.

But for this influence to become leadership, it must be combined with one other principle: 


Leadership is far more than influence alone.  Leadership must involve using that influence to help others achieve a common goal with a focus and competency they would not otherwise be capable of.

Without intention, influence is merely a power trip.  We can influence people without purpose, just for the sake of exerting power and feeling superior.  I can use my position and authority to “make” people see it my way, but that’s not leadership.  And my actions and attitudes might be influenced by strong personalities around me, but that doesn’t mean they are leading me.

Intention is what separates leadership from mere influence.  Influence only gives us the opportunity to be heard.  Intention means using that opportunity to deliver a message worth hearing.  Intention says “This is where I’m going.  This is where my focus is.  This is what I’m trying to accomplish.”  Leadership adds “come with me, and let’s accomplish it together.”

The choices we make about how to use our influence will define our leadership.

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of three servants who had been entrusted with some property by their master.  Two of them were intentional about what they did with that property, and so increased their master’s profit.  The third was not intentional with what had been entrusted to him.  He therefore did nothing to increase his master’s holdings. 

When we think about the concept of stewardship, we tend to think of money and possessions first.  But what about opportunities?  What about the influence God has given us?  Aren’t these also resources over which we should exhibit good stewardship?

This world is full of young people who have influence over their peers.  Unfortunately, it does not seem to be full of others who will disciple them and help them to intentionally use that influence to impact their generation.

This is why I am passionate about developing Christian leadership and character in young musicians.  I have been given influence over this community of young people.  And I know that the world will be impacted by what I choose to leverage that influence towards.

The Master has entrusted each of us with some of His most precious treasure:  influence in the lives of others.  Will we be intentional in how we use it to lead them?  If so, we can count on hearing these words from the master:  “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!”  (Matthew 25:23)